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How the Bubonic Plague Was a Turning Point in History

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The Bubonic Plague: A turning point in history The Bubonic Plague, which also goes by other names such as: the Black Death, the Black Plague, the Great Pestilence, is a disease that devastated the medieval world with a 9 out of 10 mortality rate (Vyas). It is so resilient that cases of infection are still being recorded in America today –although in a much milder manner. The plague then killed of almost one-third of Europe’s population, leaving lasting effects wherever it had touched (Bussema and Witowski). This fatal epidemic disease has since changed how we take on such diseases, and modified our tactics on handling epidemics and other contagious diseases. The Black Plague is an infection caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis (originally known as Pasteurella pestis) (Kohn). The name of the bacterium comes from the scientist that discovered it; French bacteriologist, Alexandre Yersin (Tyson). The pestilence has a typical incubation period of two to seven days before the symptoms begin to show. The plague has many symptoms, some of which include: chills, fever, nausea, and painful swelling of the lymph nodes (called buboes –from which the disease is named) that occur in the armpits and neck and groin. Other symptoms of the illness are: red spots on the skin that turned black, the rotting of flesh whilst still living, severe headache, weakness, and vomiting. Yet, most cases were fatal by the third day (Vyas). This disease was transferred from infected animals -most often rodents- into the fleas that were feeding on the rats. The bacteria were then injected into the bloodstream of humans at the site of the fleabite (Kohn). It is this transfer from rats to people which is why the plague was commonly referred to as a “poor person’s disease”. Because whereas the wealthy had buildings constructed of stone with slate or tile as roofing material (which are not...

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